POLL: What do Massachusetts residents think about climate change?

Climate change (Photo by Matt Palmer/Unsplash)

By Emily Tan
Boston University News Service

Across the globe, climate change and going green are on the minds of many as parts of the world commemorate the 52nd Earth Day this Friday, April 22. In Massachusetts alone, activists will gather and call for urgent action to address the ongoing climate crisis across the state. But while many residents plan to attend vigils and clean up neighborhoods, a new poll shows disparities between actions and thoughts.

Sponsored by the Barr Foundation, the MassINC Polling Group — in collaboration with The Boston Globe — conducted a statewide climate change survey of 1,890 Massachusetts residents from March 23 to April 5. Here are some of the key takeaways.

While a majority of respondents acknowledge the impacts of climate change in the state — such as rising sea levels and more extreme heat waves — fewer see the crisis as a very serious problem compared to three years ago.

Among other long-term issues, climate change was also considered the lowest priority for respondents. Fewer than half ranked the crisis a high priority for the state government to focus on — a drop from the more than half who thought the same in 2019. Climate change lags behind concerns about energy and fuel costs, taxes, jobs and the economy, education and health care.

However, respondents still try to reduce their climate impact. Seventy-nine percent of respondents recycle and 62% adjust their thermostats to save energy, while almost half avoid single-use plastics. But when it comes to making widespread systemic change, only 34% prioritize the crisis in casting their ballots.

Respondents have also made environmentally friendly improvements to their homes, such as using appliances that consume less energy and replacing their gas stoves with electric ones. Many, however, remain hesitant to install solar panels that generate renewable energy. Most respondents agreed that an incentive or rebate would push them to implement these changes sooner.

Outside of their homes, a majority of respondents also support proposals that reduce the climate impact of new or renovated buildings.

On the roads, 84% of surveyed drivers use gas-powered cars, as compared to the 6% who own gas-electric hybrids and the 3% who own electric vehicles. But almost half of the drivers who do not own electric vehicles say they are likely to purchase one in the future.

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